Saturday, May 30, 2009

IH Approval and the Study is GONE!

Michelle shared word today that International Headquarters has given us their blessing to close on the loan for this project. IH is not guaranteeing the loan, nor are they funding the project in any way as of yet, but we still needed their approval in order to keep things kosher with policy. That was our last hurdle before closing, so now we are good to go in that department.

Here are the latest exterior shots of the house. The foundation is poured, folks. This is a HUGE step!!

Notice the lumber that's off to the side of the work site - that's for framing, which is next. Also, notice we've removed the back room of the house - this is where the new entrance will be.

Taking a trip down memory lane... The room that has been removed is what younger sisters have most recently called their lounge/snack room. When I lived in the house ('01-'02 and '03-'04), this poor little space multi-tasked like it was nobody's business. We used it as a private study, storage, CLC bedroom, and even temporarily as a sister's bedroom in a pinch situation. Wonder what it was used for before all of that? This room was always in transition but inevitably ended up as the dumping ground for random storage items. I vividly remember the year I was a Recruitment co-chair for House Tours Committee and spent the summer doing random chores throughout the house with (sweet and oober-dedicated) committee members. One project was to clean and paint the study. But before we did, I took pictures of it. This is the room that is now gone forever! Farwell, study!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Permit & Progress

Just in case you are still in disbelief this renovation is actually happening... Here's the official building permit!

The rebar for the new addition is in place. I've seen the design on paper, but seeing this picture really puts into perspective the size of the addition! The main level addition will be the chapter room, and then upstairs (the addition as well as the current back five, back-4-girl, president's bathroom and back bathroom) will all be transformed into 2- and 3-bedroom rooms with a new bathroom.

The old main level powder room is no more! This space will completely transform and essentially be the location for vending machines that will close off from the hall with a door. A fantastic alternative to the otherwise constantly trashed study/CLC room/lounge. But I digress...

One last homage to those of you who shared my sentimentality of seeing the deck removed... Rest more peacefully knowing that all of that old decking is going to a good home. It's off to be recycled!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Making it legal...

The old adage, "Many hands make light work" does not seem to have applied here.

Despite the multifaceted support of collegians, parents, alumnae, neighbors, architects, contractors and so many others, this project's weight has seemed crushing. In 2007 and 2008, in light of the city-imposed Greek-build moratorium and a withering economy, it would have been forgivable to shrug off this project another decade. But we did not! Fighting for city approval, persistently seeking more capital campaign contriubtions, surmounting bed & parking restrictions, finding a lender, finessing logistics to keep the house open during construction... every step of this project has been a challenge. But now comes a benchmark we can all find great achievement and refreshment in...


You may be wondering, how is this happening AFTER breaking ground? Because of the contributions we have collected from capital campaign pledges, we were able to begin demolition/construction prior to closing the loan. And thank goodness, because our window for Phase I is miniscule - from the day girls moved out of the house for summer until the days just prior to Recruitment, that's less than 3 months. Our contractor, Bona Fide, has been amazing to accomodate this unique timeframe and we are so grateful!

Monday, May 18, 2009


The deck is officially gone. And apparently there were some prizes hidden underneath!

I'm trying to remember how long the deck has been a part of the property; it's been a while. The nostalgic part of me must admit, I'm sad to see it go... That's where my now husband dropped me off after our blind first date 8 years ago, where Jenny Houston & her tea pitcher shared Gamma Phi folklore, the spot where I learned I'd been chosen as an Orientation Leader, the ramp we all used after late nights downtown... There are a lot of good memories from that shabby ole' deck.

BUT, in its place -- and as you can see from the clay square where there is no asphalt -- will be a CHAPTER ROOM!!!! The chapter room will be much bigger than the deck ever was - it will comfortably hold at least 150 seats.

And, see in the picture where the siding has been removed -- where the old study/break room/CLC sleeping room window is? That will be the new gorgeous back entrance to the house. Outside of this entrance is where the engraved brick pavers from donors will be.

We are pending to close the loan for Phase One construction costs this week. Michelle Rosenthal is going to Athens to sign everything on behalf of HCB, and with my power of attorney. This past weekend HCB met to vote on things like flooring choices, door & window choices, plumbing fixtures, hardware... More on those choices later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Groundbreaking Moment

During my freshman year at UGA I was told our sorority house would be renovated. Nine years later, here we are, and by no small miracle, construction on the major renovation project has begun. Here is a picture of the construction trailer and the fencing that is up at the house now.

You're probably thinking that the title of this posting was chosen because earth has literally been turned at 397 S. Milledge. And while that is true, a further anomaly is occuring... I am blogging. For the first time in my life. This is what Gamma Phi has inspired. :)

My goal is to post at least weekly. I'll include pictures whenever possible because, let's be honest, that's really what we are all most interested in seeing... real, tangible progress! Serving on House Corporation Board (HCB) gives me incredible access to resources and I'll do my best to keep you in the loop, but feel free to post comments or questions.

The HCB President Michelle Hood Rosenthal describes the construction project in two phases, the first of which broke ground today:

"PHASE ONE began today and will be all new construction on the back of the house. This will include the new entry way, chapter room and vending closet on the first floor. The five new bedrooms and a bathroom on the second floor will be framed out and the plumbing/electrical will be completed. Phase one will also include redoing the parking lot and site as well as improving the overall electrical system, HVAC system and sprinkler systems for the entire house. Phase one will come to a stop for recruitment on August 1st and then resume with some finishing work when school starts to be completed by Christmas Break. The chapter room will have its certificate of occupancy by this deadline but the new second floor will not be used until the following school year.
"PHASE TWO will begin in May 2010 and this will be the renovation of the existing bedrooms on the second floor to tie them to the new construction. A laundry area on the first floor will also be included in phase two. The total project will be completed by recruitment in August 2010! Working this project into two phases allows the girls to live and have access to the house for the 2009-2010 school year."

Stay tuned. There is SO much more to post...


About Me

I pledged in 2000, and that's when I first heard we were going to renovate the house. I graduated in 2004, moved to Atlanta where I now live with my fellow UGA grad (and AKL advisor) hubby Eric. Since 2006, I've been volunteering with HCB. I have been an Atlanta-area Realtor for the past 3 years and now also serve as the southeastern property manager for Chick-fil-A, Inc. You can reach me at: